Making the ‘right’ big move

If you are a Freelancer or a Web Development Shop, you understand the idea of taking risks. In fact, as a Freelancer and Web Development Shop, that’s our biggest advantage over the larger companies. We can make decisions quickly and implement new programs virtually overnight. With this extreme flexibility it’s much easier for us to make Big Moves. Yes, “with great power comes great responsibility,” so what if our Big Move turns out to be the wrong one?

A Big Move can be anything. Investing in a new technology, focusing on a specific vertical or even hiring a rockstar employee. I’ve seen a lot of Big Moves made over the years. Some were crippling, some were devastating and some outright successful! We’ve all heard of the “Pivot” where companies do a 180 degree turn with their business and go off in a completely new direction. One company I worked for years ago started off as a graphic design company, transitioned into a Web Development company and then moved head first into being a software product company. They are still around today doing great. Sometimes a Big Move is irrecoverable. Another company I worked for ramped up quickly, investing in several small verticals and even went on a hiring spree. A year later the company spread itself too thin and laid off half the staff. Eventually the company was sold for next to nothing.

Big Moves are attractive, because they have a huge payoff. If it sticks, it can change the company. Where you see a lot of Big Moves made is in hiring the ‘rockstar’ employee. This is usually done for multiple reasons, be it political, a person may have lots of connections, monetary, this person may have a lot of contacts or skills, this person has the skills to move your business in a new direction. These can be a really good Big Move for a business to make. Relatively low overhead and a huge benefit. It can also be a terrible Big Move if your expectations are too high. Rockstar employee acquisitions only work when you create an environment for them to thrive in. If you hired the Rockstar employee for their skills and then they make recommendations to improve your business, but you don’t make them, you have just overpaid for a low level employee. A Rockstar employee isn’t magic, your business won’t improve by them just being there, the only way your business will improve, is by changing whats not working.

Some Big Moves take years. One of my most favorite companies I worked for transitioned from a services company to a software company focusing on state and local government contracts. That’s a tough market. It took many years for it to develop it’s niche, but they are still here. Freelancers and Web Dev Shops shouldn’t be afraid of making Big Moves, but you have to make sure you are doing it for the right reasons and you are prepared. If you move to a new technology, make sure there is enough support for you to scale up. A new vertical can provide focus, but do some research to make sure there is some latitude for you to spread out a bit. If you decide to hire the Rockstar employee, make sure you are not setting them up to fail. If you are expecting one person to come in and change a business that has spent years going down the wrong path, you better give that person some time to figure it out, you took a long time to get there and it’s going to take a long time to unravel that mess.

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